Maintaining a major mobile network is an expensive business, especially in the UK where the
need to continuously roll out new technologies to a broad geographical footprint is critical if you want to stay in touch with the competition. All the costs associated with maintaining a large infrastructure have led many firms to outsource equipment delivery. Specialist delivery company RedTrail claims it is filling the gap in the market as network operators ‘creak’ under the growing demand for 4G connectivity.
Speaking to Mobile, RedTrail CEO and founder James Henderson said: ‘We undertake the specialist delivery side of the business, it’s where we stand out. Until recently, most equipment was delivered to sites with a crane, but companies are becoming commercially savvy and won’t spend money on a crane if there is a better way of doing it, and that’s where we come in. We don’t do any infrastructure work; the networks will engage with the manufacturers that provide the equipment, and we then deliver the equipment. We also switch equipment, and with 4G rollouts and consolidations happening among the mobile networks there is a lot of equipment being moved around in the UK.
‘About a quarter to a third of all sites will require some kind of specialist delivery, and the networks have no other option but to change their equipment if they want to progress. The networks are creaking and they have to do something to cope with the fact that everyone has 4G and everyone wants it faster and cheaper.’
Henderson explained that the networks outsource equipment delivery in order to get better value, and stated that RedTrail is filling that gap in the market. He said: ‘A lot of things get outsourced; by picking the right people they can get better value. We’re not a huge company, there’s only 15 of us so we would get lost in Vodafone’s pocket if we were an in-house company. There’s no justification for networks to do it in-house, much in the same way that they use subcontractors for many things. You can’t be all things to all men but there’s a gap in the market and we’re filling that nicely.’
RedTrail works nationwide with the mobile operators, with Henderson stating that the company is currently in talks with Nokia and Huawei, and has also been working with EE for the network’s 4G deployment. He explained that all the consolidation happening in the UK market may be good for business: ‘We work for EE at the moment, and one of the big projects we’re working on with EE is with the 2G refresh that it is doing – but we have been involved in the 4G deployment and 3G refresh.
‘There’s going to be cash injected into EE with the acquisition and it will want to spend that. Hopefully it will want to spend it on an area that will affect us and if EE spends money, Vodafone and BT will want to spend money too.’
RedTrail claims that it is the only delivery service that offers operators a specialist service, providing customised Land Rovers and track machines to allow the networks to get equipment across fields, up mountains and on top of buildings. Henderson said that he saw the need for such a service while working for a network himself: ‘The business came about while I was working at Orange. It was landing very large cabinets in Wales and Scotland and it would have to put in a stone trackway to drive delivery vehicles to the site. I thought “there has to be a better way of doing this”.'
He added. ‘Almost every network is having equipment changed at the moment and we offer good value and we offer different methods from what is available now – we offer alternatives to expensive trackways and cranes. I don’t know another company that has the same capabilities as us.’